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Highland gatherings go back over 2,000 years and were originally designed to select the most proficient warriors in each clan. The first games to be held as a sporting event were at Braemar in the 11th century, but it was Queen Victoria’s patronage that truly popularised them. Piping, Highland dancing and sports such as tossing the caber are all part of the Highland games scene today.

The Cowal Gathering
Since 11 August 1894, the Cowal Gathering has mushroomed into the largest annual games in Scotland. Hosted near Dunoon, the whole sound and spectacle of dancers, athletes and legions of pipe bands competing on the field is only half of the experience; being a part of it all is the other.

The Ben Nevis Race
But several other events are also important in the Highland calendar. Since William Swan won the first timed race up (and down) 'the Ben' in September 1895, athletes have striven to improve on his winning time of 2 hr 41min. The Ben Nevis Race is now one of the most challenging athletic events in Britain and attracts between 300 and 500 athletes on the first Saturday of every September.

The Camanachd Cup Final
Camanachd is more popularly known as shinty and the Camanachd Cup is the game's highest prize. Annually contested on the first Saturday in June, the Cup attracts shinty's biggest crowds. The athleticism and skill of the players creates a great open-air spectacle. Truly not a game for the faint-hearted!

The Northern Meeting
Held annually in Inverness in early September, the Northern Meeting is regarded as the most prestigious solo piping competition in the world. To win a clasp or Senior Piobaireachd at the Northern Meeting is an outstanding achievement, and the annual return of multiple clasp winners guarantees quality competition.

The Royal National Mod
Opening on Friday night, an Comunn Gaidhealach welcomes everyone to the Mod in word and song, and this is followed by a ceilidh. The piping and shinty competitions take place on the Saturday. The children restart the competitions on the Monday, paving the way for the seniors later in the week. The competitions for the Mod gold medals for male and female solo singing and the Lovat and Tullibardine Shield for the best Gaelic choir generate great excitement. The event closes with thanksgiving and an address as the host committee formally hands over to the next Mod committee.

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